The last point mentioned is one of the biggest points of controversy – and one of the saddest points in society – today. The issue of childcare goes hand-in-hand with feminism, as it is the vision of feminists to get every woman out of her dingy, boring, restrictive home and away from her annoying, ratty, useless children out into the productive, exciting, rewarding world of the workplace. And many women listen. Motherhood isn’t easy – their own mothers have told them that much – and they would rather earn some money to provide for their detestable darlings than put up with the temper tantrums and the rebellion that is sure to come ( I mean, some kids these days aren’t even waiting to hit thirteen before adopting the attitude… but who can blame them? It is perfectly natural…) And so the poor little things are sent to a big building to learn socialization and other life skills from two or three strange adults and at least twenty other kids their own age.
“And with the government funding childcare,” says an excited parent, “we can afford to work longer even though childcare rates are actually increasing! Sure, the government makes calls on how the kids are to be treated and raised, but it can’t be all bad.”
Can’t it? Does the government really have the right or the responsibility to raise the children of our society? This question receives varied answers, even within parliament itself. John Howard, Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007, did not believe so. Within the first four years of his being in office, he cut 850 million dollars from childcare funding, effectively forcing thousands of women to quit their jobs and be available for their children. In his election campaign, Kevin Rudd however, promised a 1.5 billion dollar project to improve childcare funding and increase childcare rebates. Such a difference of opinion represents one of the great divides that splits our society.
What does the Bible say about feminism and motherhood? We read in Titus 2:4-5 “That [the older women] may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” We also read in Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” From these two passages we can see that God is very serious about the role that He gave to women and mothers, and He expects us to take it very seriously too. Firstly, he expects women to be “keepers at home”. This does not mean, necessarily that women should not work, but home duties should always come first. If work is cutting in on her duty to her home, then she needs to re-evaluate her work situation. If she is married, then her duty is home and husband. She needs to be available for her husband to provide his physical and emotional needs. She can’t very well do that if he’s in one office and she’s in another. And then there are children. As we read in Deuteronomy that training one’s children in the Word of God occurs all the time, from the moment you get up, to when you go to bed at night. This of course implies that one is with one’s children all of the time to instil such principles. Since it is the duty of the man of the household to be the breadwinner of the family (1 Timothy 5:8) then that leaves Mummy to be the care taker and the Bible teacher to the children.
As with most discussions that involve marriage, we can revert back to a bigger picture – Christ and His bride, the church. While feminists call those women who choose to be home makers “old-fashioned” and “out of date”, the same is often said of the church. With ethical standards slipping socially, the church is frequently accused of being behind the times, exclusive and closed-minded.
In one sense, I suppose the church is ‘old-fashioned’. In society it is acceptable to abort unwanted babies, marry whomever you chose and so on. In that context, the church is – or very much should be – old-fashioned. That, however, does not make the church wrong. Traditional values have stood the test of time and have never changed when other standards did.
How can we know that the Bible – God’s Holy Word – will not fail or go out of date? Jesus himself said, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.” (Luke 16:17) Interestingly enough, the very next verse goes on to talk about marriage and God’s plan for men and women in marriage.
If, then, the church and the Bible are not out-of-date, and yet are separate to society’s standards, what is the church’s place in society? James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” This does not refer only to widows and orphans but anyone in need. If we serve our community, meet them where they are – but keep ourselves clean from its sin – then the impact we will have on society will be earth-shattering: they won’t know what hit them. But we will. It is the love of Jesus.